A direct confrontation between Russia and Ukraine is impossible, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with Italy’s Il Giornale daily published on Wednesday.
According to him, only Kiev’s unconditional implementation of the Minsk Agreements can prevent "a genocide of the Russian population" in Ukraine.
"I believe that a direct confrontation between Ukraine and Russia is impossible," Shoigu said.
"We have common roots, for centuries we have been enduring hardships together and we fought side by side for our freedom and independence during World War II," the Russian defense minister added. "My mother’s family members used to live in Ukraine, I was baptized in a small church in the Stakhanov town located in Ukraine’s Lugansk region. This is why I am confident that there will never be a place for confrontation and enmity between us, given our common history," he said.
"Unfortunately, Kiev has been reluctant to fulfill its obligations, citing various flimsy pretexts and making groundless accusations against Russia," he said.
"At the same time, Kiev has been rejecting the very possibility of dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, while it is crucial for resolving the crisis. Clearly, our country responds to these developments, calling on Kiev to implement the Minsk Package of measures," the Russian defense minister noted.
Shoigu was hopeful that European counties, first and foremost, members of the Normandy Quartet [which included Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine - TASS] "will use all their influence on the Ukrainian authorities to make sure that a peaceful solution is found to the domestic conflict in southeastern Ukraine."